Ranking Journals: Academic Journal Guide 2021 (“ABS List”)

The influential Chartered Association of Business Scholars has just published its Academic Journal Guide 2021 (“ABS list”). What does this mean for the operations and supply chain management (OSCM) research community? I have looked at the ranks for 15 major OSCM journals.

Once again, only the following OSCM journals were classified in category 4*: Journal of Operations Management, Management Science and Operations Research. To be honest, I wonder if the asterisk is really still appropriate for Operations Research.

The following OSCM journals were given a 4 in the 2021 ABS list: European Journal of Operational Research, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Journal of Supply Chain Management and Production & Operations Management. This is good news for our discipline, because it means that the Journal of Supply Chain Management has moved up into this important category. However, it would have been time to give this journal not just a 4, but a 4*.

The following OSCM journals were given a grade of 3: Decision Sciences, International Journal of Production Economics, Journal of Business Logistics, Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management and Supply Chain Management: An International Journal. Here, there are even two new entries: Journal of Business Logistics and Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management. While this is good news for both logistics and procurement scholars, I would have expected Journal of Business Logistics and Manufacturing & Service Operations Management to rank even higher.

The International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management lands at a 2 and the International Journal of Logistics Management lands at a 1 again. The low scores for these two journals in the 2021 ABS list are particularly strange given their quality.

My conclusion: The team behind the 2021 Academic Journal Guide appears to have listened – at least partly – to the harsh criticism from OSCM scholars. Although our discipline is certainly still underrated, compared to many other disciplines, there are finally some bright spots that give OSCM researchers a little more air to breathe. Empirically-focused OSCM journals were particularly disadvantaged by the ABS list in the past and three of them have now been upgraded. This step was overdue.

This slightly positive development for our discipline should not hide the harmful effects of rankings in general. Academia is increasingly about metrics rather than content. Assessment committees, bonus decisions and tenure-track regulations are increasingly about counting the names of certain journals per year – instead of reading them. The REF system in the UK has turned academic debate (i.e., quality) into a “race for points” (i.e., quantity) in the home country of the ABS list. This is a very negative development.

Therefore, it is gratifying that more and more universities are signing the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which asks “not [to] use journal-based metrics […] as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions”.


About Andreas Wieland

Andreas Wieland is an Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management at Copenhagen Business School. His current research interests include resilient and socially responsible supply chains.

2 responses to “Ranking Journals: Academic Journal Guide 2021 (“ABS List”)”

  1. Sadaat says :

    Rightly said, few bright spots and some interesting misses too…. IJPDLM is certainly one of them. I am also of the view that the grading and ranking should be based on the intellectual merit rather than the publications in ranked journals

  2. Lisa says :

    Your summary of the rankings is right on, Andreas. Thank you. It is good to see come upward movement on the rankings of our best journals. IJPDLM an IJLM are puzzling– and each should have moved up at least one position. JBL and JPSM should have both moved up more– but think this committee does not want to move any journal more than one position.

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